United States wildfires scorching homes, land - and California's annual budget

California's summer siege of wildfires – LA Times

Twin wildfires fueled by dry vegetation and hot, windy weather continued to grow Saturday in Northern California, destroying 55 homes and forcing thousands of residents to flee their neighborhoods.

The National Park Service said Yosemite Valley is not threatened by the fire as of Friday at noon.

Its size overtook the deadly Carr Fire, about 160km to the northeast, which is among 18 significant wildfires burning across California and 106 in the United States.

Two firefighters and four other people have been killed since the blaze, which ignited July 23, raced with extraordinary fury toward the region's largest city.

Both areas remained under a "red flag warning" issued by the National Weather Service for strong winds, low relative humidity and temperatures topping 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), all conditions that can drive the growth of wildfires.

"This is a particularly risky situation with extremely low humidity and high winds".

The Mendocino Complex Fire grew to 157,450 acres (63,700 hectares) late Friday, about half the size of Los Angeles, forcing almost 16,000 homeowners to flee a blaze that has destroyed 88 structures about 93 miles (150 km) north of San Francisco, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire).

Some evacuations were lifted Friday in an area near Redding, where armies of firefighters and fleets of aircraft have been battling an huge blaze about 100 miles south of the OR line.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service said that, according to preliminary information, the winds of the column were moving at speeds of 143 miles per hour, classifying it as an EF-3 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which rates tornado intensity on a range of zero to five.

The fire has charred an area of the forested, rural area five times the size of San Francisco and is only 30 percent contained. Two others were killed in another wildfire in the state.

Dykema said wildfires typically create whirls but rarely of the strength of the one recorded July 26.

Dykema said the whirl uprooted trees and tore roofs from home.

Workers who live in Yosemite's popular Valley region were ordered to leave Friday because of inaccessible roads.

Varney was a 10-year veteran. Two recent examples are the Carr Fire that's destroyed more than 1,000 homes in and near Redding - it's already the sixth-most destructive in state history - and the Ferguson Fire that forced the closure of part of Yosemite National Park in late July, at the height of tourist season.

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